Excelsior

SOTD, Nov. 30, 2017

I took the photo with my Sony a6000 with a Mitakon Speedmaster II 35mm lens at f/0.95 at the minimum focusing distance.

A Canon IVSB is hiding in the background there, just past the shaving mug.

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White Rose

I recently learned about the White Rose student group that opposed Nazism in Germany during the early 1940s. I had already taken this photo. But it’s good to remember such folks.

One of the members, a young woman named Sophie Scholl, said this:

How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?

Let her example stir us all to action. And let us all, when we see a white rose, think of the decency and bravery of these folks.

B-W White Rose

 

Moon over Swede Lake

I took this shot a few weeks ago. I had gone out to Swede Lake, a shallow little lake west of the Twin Cities, to try a little bit of bowfishing. I didn’t see any carp–or any other fish, for that matter. But I did get a photo of the moon over the bow of my canoe.Moon over Swede Lake

An Ol’ Ditch Down Home; or, Another Assault on Our Environment

This ol’ hillbilly grew up (some–not all the way) down in southeast Missouri, just west of the Mississippi, south of the Benton Hills and east of Crowley’s Ridge. (You can look up Salcedo, Missouri, and Rootwad Township, if you’re interested.)

Back before the early 1900s, that area was largely wetlands. They called it “Swampeast Missouri.” But in the early part of the 1900s, land speculators encouraged the development of the Little River Drainage District (“LRDD”). The LRDD drained the Big Swamp, cutting wide, deep drainage ditches every mile. The drained land was logged and turned into farmland. Altogether, it was a greater effort than digging the Panama Canal. You can read a little bit about it herehere, here, and here.

The Little River Drainage District opened up more than a million acres to agriculture. But it was one of the great environmental assaults undertaken on our country. Swampeast Missouri had been home to cypress swamps, bear, deer, panthers. But the loss of the wetlands habitat meant the loss of plant and animal communities. (This document discusses some of these issues in greater detail.) When I was a young man, there were no deer, bear , or wildcats of any kind through most of the area.

The assault continues. When this ol’ hillbilly was still a boy and young man, you could take a boat down most of the ditches any time of the year. I used to catch a lot of fish out of the ditches: largemouth bass, bluegill, perch, crappie, grass pike, bowfin–once even a striped bass. I never fished for catfish, but they were common in the ditches.

But when I visited back a couple of months ago,* I found the ditches almost dry. Folks have been taking water out of the land–not only by draining it, but also by pumping it out to irrigate croplands. And more area farmers are growing rice–a practice that involves flooding rice fields, allowing water to evaporate into the humid air. Water tables are falling. When I was young, our well was a sunk whopping thirteen feet. Now everyone is driving their wells deeper and deeper as the aquifer shrinks.

I took this photo of one of the area ditches when I visited in early September. Back in the late 1970s, this ditch would’ve had plenty of water in it, even in September. But when I saw it, it was almost dry.

A couple weeks ago, I happened to open an app on my phone and applied a filter to the photo. I sort of like the looks of it. It reminds me of old times back home.

Except that there ain’t hardly no water in that damned ditch.

Ditch Down Home

* That is, early September 2017.

Bass Lake Preserve

The Old Hillbilly took hisself a little walk around Bass Lake Preserve in St. Louis Park today. Yesterday was right chilly, and we got ourselves some snow last night. But it warn’t too awful cold today, and most of the snow has done gone and melted.

They call it Bass Lake, but I reckon they ain’t no bass in these here little shallow ponds that make up the “lake.” Most of ’em have done froze over. Most likely they’ll stay froze over ’til April. With the water bein’ as shallow as it is, they ain’t enough oxygen down there for no fish of any size.

Still, it’s a pretty enough spot. It ain’t but about a mile from the Old Hillbilly’s house, so I can get there in no time at all.

I cain’t figure out how to get these pitchers to pop up full size. Iffen they is one of you knows how to do that, I’d sure appreciate it. ‘Cause the pitchers is a lot better once you can actually see ’em.

I taken ’em all with my new Sony a6000 camera. I had an old Canon rangefinder lens on it for the one with the fungus and the one with the leaves in front of the frozen water. The rangefinder lens is an f/1.2, and I was shooting it wide open.

I used the kit lens for the other photo–the black-and-white one showing a bit more of the preserve. The kit lens is a 16-50mm. It’s pretty slow (f/3.5), but it ain’t a bad lens.

It’s Done Gettin’ Cold Here, Folks

It ain’t but November, but the little old ponds has done started to freezing over here in the Twin Cities. The Old Hillbilly took this photo the other day down at Bredesen Park, in Edina. It’s full of little ol’ shallow ponds. Ain’t no fish in ’em, of course, ’cause they’re too shallow: they freeze over during the winter, and the fish can’t get no oxygen. That’s not real healthy for ’em. It’s generally recognized that most critters need oxygen. Without it, they turn to mulch.

Anyway, the ponds are freezing over. The lakes will follow. Winter will settle on us: dark, quiet, and cold.DSC00054

Buffalo Fishing

FOTCC0Well, the Old Hillbilly was gone for quite a while, doing a spell sitting mainly still in Stillwater. Anyone who’s from Minnesota will know what that means.

You see, the Old Hillbilly had neglected to abide by certain laws and regulations pertaining to (a) possession of distilling equipment; (b) the manufacture of alcoholic beverages; (c) the sale of alcoholic beverages; (d) the quantity of alcoholic beverages one may have and safely drive on the public roads; ; and (e) taking game (to wit, deer) within the city limits of Minneapolis without a license–or with one, for that matter.

Turned out that I shouldn’t have invited that one neighbor to my venison dinner. Old boy’s a police officer. It was right embarrassing having the cuffs thrown on me right in the middle of dinner, just as I was serving up a plate of Venison au Gens de Colline with a big mug of moonshine.

When I went up in front of the judge, I said, “Oops. I did it again.”

Unfortunately, the judge wasn’t a fan of Britney Spears. Neither is the Old Hillbilly, for that matter.

So they sent the Old Hillbilly away for a spell at the Stillwater Correctional Facility. While I was there, the warden took it into his mind to have someone teach the Old Hillbilly how to read and write properly. He said he’d see about getting me out sooner if I could learn spelling and nonsense like that.

So I took it into my mind to learn to read and write. They made me read books and write essays and take tests. It was even less enjoyable than it was the six or eight times I sat through fourth grade.

Finally, though, I made it. They let me go a bit early and told me not to come back if I knew what was good for me.

So I’m back.

Of course, I’m not brewing up mash these days, and I don’t have a still, and I’m not selling my special Rocket Fuel Mash for $10 per jug from my ’53 GMC flatbed on Saturday and Sunday afternoons out at the Swede Lake boat launch. Nope. Not doing that at all.

I have been bowfishing a bit lately. This photo above shows the Old Hillbilly, aged 59 years and 364 days, holding up a little old buffalo fish I shot down in southeast Missouri back about six weeks ago. At first I thought it was a carp; then I thought it was a drum; and then I figured out it was a smallmouth buffalo.

That’s my PSE Tidal Wave bow with a Zebco 808 bowfishing reel mounted on it.

Ain’t Nothin’ Says a Feller Cain’t Learn Nothin’

One Ugly Mug 2
One Ugly Mug
Thish hyar ole hillbilly aint much fer beleevin in thangs other foaks sez. Foaks’ll tell yuh, “Thish hyar sham pooh will make yore hair shannier and git ewe more wimmen then ewe kin shake a stick at.”

Ain’t no truth to it. Truss me. Bin air; dun at; got the scars on muh skalp tuh pruve it.

But sinst Ah wuz jist a liddle ole hillbilly, thaze one thang Ah had hyeerd tell thet Ah thott wuzz the God’s most honestest truth.

Ah wuz told tam an tam agin they ain’t no way a carp’s gonna take a lerr. An Ah wint an toald foaks the same thang. “Doant aiven thank about it,” Ah’d say. “Aint no carp nohwirr no tam noways evver taken no lerr.”

Well, culler thish hyar ole hillbilly a bratt shade of rong.

Yissterdy aivnin, Ah wuzz out fishin on Lake of the Als. Ah wuzz fishin with a lerr–a Rappluh Shaller Shad. Ah thoad it in cloast tuh the bank, twixt thuh bank an a mess of lily pads–an sumthin hit it.

Ah thot: at air is a natty fan bass.

Ah coulden take no lan up on the rail. Ah’d tern thuh handle, an Ah coulden git it tuh do nothin.

Purdy soon, Ah disaddid hit coulden be no bass. Hit was too big.

Fanly Ah got it up tuh the surfiss soze Ah kud see it. An hit warnt nuthin seppin a big ole carp.

Ah didden wanna brake muh rod ner bust muh lan, speshly coz Ah am rat fond of thuh Rappluh lerr Ah wuz a-yoozin. Soze Ah took muh naidle-nose plars an pluckt thuh lerr outen the ole carp’s mouth.

Ah taiken a cupple of pitchers. Thay aint suh sharp, mainly cozz thuh ole carp wuz a-moovin all thuh tam. But hittle give ewe an eye-deer. Ah wreckin thuh ole thang wood go mebbe ate er ten pownz.

Ah aint suh prowd bowt ketchin me no carp, seppin Ah cott it on a lerr. Thet’s strainj. Iffen Ah hadden had enuff mash tuh drank, Ah matter thott Ah wuz havin me sum deleeryum tree mens. In fack, Ah wuz suh consarned Ah give muhseff a blood test atter Ah let thuh ole carp go. Ah drawed off bout a teaspoon of blood and put a match to it. Shore nuff, hit burnt jiss fan, with a long blue flame. At let me no thet muh blood alkie haul content wuz jiss rat.

Laiter on, Ah ketched me a purdy nass liddle ole bass. Thuh ole carp woodah maid sicks er seven of at air liddle ole bass. Still, Ah lackt thuh ole bass a hoal sat bedder. Carp’s jiss an ugly critter. Kanly remands me of a praicher Ah yooster no, feller yooster come rown an preech tuh me bowt goin tuh church. Mebbe haze dun bin re in car naited.

Another on the Devil's Horse

Hit’s Still Winter, Fur As Ah Kin See

B-W Tackle Box

Hit’s bin a rat smart hwal sinst Ah roat sumthin fer yawl. Hit aint that Ah dun fergot yawl. Hits jist that thish hyar ole hillbilly hez bin a mat bizzy. Moast speshly, Ah spint a hwal polishin bars at the cownty jail. Peers thet sum foaks hyar bouts doant take kanly tuh likker iffen hit aint bottled in bond. Fellers sposed tuh pay tacksis, they tell me. But iffen Ah start payin tacksis, thaze less munny in it fer thish hyar ole hillbilly!

Ennywaze, they let me out. Turns owt sum feller got into the heavy dense locker an drunkt up awl muh mash. Thouten the mash, the persecutor didden have no case agin me. So the juj thoad it out.

Coarse, Ah happen tuh no thet the juj was a-hankrin fer sum of the ole hillbilly’s rokkit fule mash. He hadden had nun fer near bowt a weak. An Ah wreckin thaze a persecutor er sicks hoo wont turn up thare nose at a sip of mash er ten.

Sinst Ah bin owt, Ah aint had no tam harley seppin fer brewin up muh mash. Hits bin suh cold thet foaks need them sum corn likker tuh warm up. Thish hyar poler vortices has bin visiting too regler lack fer moas foaks. Even foaks fum Nor Dakota ain’t got nuthin good tuh say bout it. An them foaks is yoost tuh them sum coald weather.

Ennywaze, Ah bin thankin bowt fishin. Ah aint intristed in no ahs-fishin. Ah got tuh thow me a lan. Iffen Ah aint thowin a lan, hit ain’t fishin. Jis a dabblin a lan down in hole in the ahs: well, hit aint fer thish hyar ole hillbilly.

Ennywaze, at air ole Son of Sharecroppers dun taken a photo of sum of muh lerrs. Ewe bet Ah got fishin on muh mand . . .